Police hunt for a good deal ... with leg room


Buying and outfitting police cruisers used to be simpler.

Barrington Police Chief John LaCross said the local department — as well as most police forces across the state — used to purchase the Ford Crown Victoria, a sturdy eight-cylinder sedan loaded with leg room and burdened with lousy gas mileage.

“It was a big V8. You’d get 11 to 12 miles per gallon,” he said.

But there was upside: Good acceleration, a spacious interior for the police officers, and the guarantee that equipment from one old Crown Vic could be easily transferred to a newly purchased Crown Vic.

Not anymore.

A few years back, Ford ceased building the Crown Vic, so departments, including Barrington, began looking at other vehicles. The local force first settled on the Dodge Charger, but more recently purchased a few Ford Interceptors.

The Chargers and Interceptors have six-cylinder engines, which vastly improves their gas efficiency — 18 to 19 miles per gallon around town, said the chief. But the new sedans also present the department with new, unforeseen challenges.

“The interior space is not as big,” Chief LaCross said, adding that leg-room is cut down even further when the prisoner cage is installed in the back seat. For the department’s larger officers, the loss of key leg room can make for a less-than-comfortable shift inside the cruiser.

Officers have also complained about blind spots in the Interceptors.

Meanwhile, the car manufacturers continue to change the size of the vehicles’ interiors, which restricts departments from re-using old cruiser equipment.

“It used to be that you could interchange the gear,” Chief LaCross said. “Now we have to buy different cages.”

New police equipment purchases are costing local taxpayers about $17,000 this year. The department is buying two new cars — a Ford SUV carrying a $26,541 price tag and another $7,606 for new police equipment, and a Dodge Charger costing $23,467 and another $9,344 for equipment.

Chief LaCross approached the town council at its Feb. 3 meeting requesting approval for the purchase, which totaled $66,961.03, and was able to reduce that cost by $4,000 when he sold two old cruisers to the Providence Police Department.

The chief had initially offered the two cruisers — each had less than 50,000 miles on them — to Imperial Municipal Partners, the dealership which is selling the police vehicles. But IMP reportedly offered only $1,200 for each car, so the chief decided to look elsewhere. He ended up speaking to the fleet manager for the Providence Police Department, who later checked out the cruisers and offered Barrington $2,000 for each.

“We saved the taxpayers $1,600,” said the chief.

The council approved the expenditure, and the vehicles should be arriving in Barrington in about six weeks.

New police cars, by the numbers

• $26,541.90: 2014 Ford SUV (4-wheel drive)

• $7,606.90: Police equipment for Ford SUV

• $34,148.80: Total for vehicle and equipment

• $23,467.60: 2014 Dodge Charger

• $9,344.63: Equipment for Charger

• $32,812.23: Total for vehicle and equipment

• $66,961.03: Total cost for both vehicles and equipment

• $4,000: Sale of two old Barrington police cruisers

• $62,961.03: Total cost to taxpayers for new police vehicles and equipment


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Why are we spending money on new vehicles? 50k is nothing for a car! And $2000 on a trade in? Seriously? Did anyone even look at the blue book?

Sunday, March 2, 2014 | Report this

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Jim McGaw

A lifelong Portsmouth resident, Jim graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1982 and earned a journalism degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1986. He's worked two different stints at East Bay Newspapers, for a total of 18 years with the company so far. When not running all over town bringing you the news from Portsmouth, Jim listens to lots and lots and lots of music, watches obscure silent films from the '20s and usually has three books going at once. He also loves to cook crazy New Orleans dishes for his wife of 25 years, Michelle, and their two sons, Jake and Max.